WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Season 3 of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, now streaming on Netflix.
Catra has always been a consistently compelling villain at the center of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, transforming herself from one of Adora's closest friends into one of her most hated enemies.
The third season of She-Ra escalates that tension even further than before, pushing Catra even more into outright villainy. In fact, her decisions over the course of the new season position Catra to become the main villain of the entire series, even more so than the more overtly villainous Hordak.
Catra was raised alongside her best friend, Adora, in the Fright Zone. While Adora was the favorite pupil of Shadow Weaver, Catra was treated much harsher. This fostered a chip on her shoulder, giving Catra a short-temper and edge that even her fellow Fright Zone soldiers lacked. This anger boiled over when Adora betrayed the Fright Zone to join the resistance and become She-Ra, leading Catra to go all the way down the path to villainy.
Her crafty and cruel nature helped elevate Catra within the ranks of the Fright Zone, thanks to her quick successes against the Princesses. She quickly became one of the most effective leaders of the Horde, netting a couple of wins for the army, capturing people and helping steal First One tech necessary for Hordak’s experiments.
CATRA'S LAST CHANCE
Catra eventually lost Hordak's favor after allowing Shadow Weaver to escape and trying to lie about her whereabouts. She essentially receives a death sentence by being sent into the Red Waste, accompanied by her wannabe friend Scorpia. But Scorpia helps Catra adjust to the desert. In fact, Catra soon finds herself in her element, becoming the head of a gang. She becomes surprisingly powerful, incredibly quickly.
Scorpia even asks Catra why she would want to go back to the Fright Zone when she's doing so well in the Red Waste. Here, Catra can be happy and find a kind of relaxed peace that she never had before. But things take a turn for the worse when Catra captures Adora and learns that Shadow Weaver had not only defected to the resistance but had come to Adora for help. Enraged, Catra decides to double down on her villainy, giving up her last, best chance for happiness so she could try to get revenge on all the people she believed had betrayed her.
BECOMING THE BAD GUY
Catra wastes little time solidifying her place as the true baddie of the Fright Zone. She outright ignores the warnings of Entrapta about the threat of activating the portal and knocks her unconscious when she refuses to stand by. She even leaves her to be practically condemned to death by being sent to Beast Island, betraying her former ally at the drop of a hat. Catra soon activates the portal and almost destroys reality in the process.
When Adora is able to save Etheria by reversing what happened, Catra manages to bring Hordak out of the base before it's destroyed. Along the way, she manages to convince Hordak that Entrapta, who he'd developed a friendship with in the lab, was actually a secret member of the resistance who'd been responsible for letting the princesses into the castle. This embitters him even more than before and turns him closer to Catra as a result.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR CATRA?
Catra isn't the biggest single threat to Eternia. That title still belongs to Hordak and the armies that spawned him. But she's proven to be a more effective villain than anyone else who works for Hordak. She's even directly responsible for some of the greatest turns against the resistance. By damaging reality, she forces Adora and Angella into a situation where one of them has to sacrifice themselves to close the broken portal. In the end, it's Angella, the queen of Bright Moon and one of the chief leaders of the resistance, who is forced to remain behind to save the world.
In one fell swoop, Catra accidentally did more to damage to the resistance than Shadow Weaver ever managed in years of serving Hordak. She's cemented herself as the one who saved Hordak -- potentially usurping Entrapta as Hordak's favorite minion. And given the look that She-Ra gives her, the heroes are keenly aware of that Catra has perhaps reached a point of no return.
All the hate that Glimmer felt for Catra is only going to be amplified now that she's directly responsible for the loss of her mother. Even Scorpia seems disillusioned by Catra's recent actions. Catra's gone full villain, but now she'll have to deal with the consequences of her choices.
Now streaming on Netflix, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power stars Aimee Carrero, Karen Fukuhara, AJ Michalka, Marcus Scribner, Reshma Shetty, Lorraine Toussaint, Keston John, Lauren Ash, Christine Woods, Genesis Rodriguez, Jordan Fisher, Vella Lovell, Merit Leighton, Sandra Oh and Krystal Joy Brown.